Is it worth it? The toes knows

Flip-flops used to be the footwear equivalent of the hankie-on- the-head. Now they've become the ultimate fashion statement for the seriously stylish

BRITISH ACTRESS Samantha Morton turned up to meet the Queen in hers, and Kate Moss is regularly seen in a stunning pair. Yes, the humble flip-flop has always been cruelly associated with naff, middle-aged men and their white socks. Well no longer; it has transcended these cliches to become the sussed piece of footwear for our pinkies into this summer. Finally we can cast off our sweaty hi tech trainers for freshness and freedom.

One of the most high powered flip-flop choices this summer comes from those slick sex fiends, Gucci. These Italian beauties, with their tiny silver "G" detail and embossed signature, were never designed for the mundane reality of trudging across the beach. Because if you're anything like the rest of us, you'll be stumbling with a bag that's ridiculously heavy and rammed full of towels, sun lotion, and trashy novels from terminal 2 and the last thing you want to worry about is scuffing the damn things. No, they would look more at home being seductively slipped onto the freshly pedicured feet of a celebrity socialite. Think Patsy Kensit or Tara P.T, any manufactured style icon, and there's your potential wearer.

The Gucci flip-flop stomps all over your holiday dreams at pounds 110. Although well made in calf patent leather, it is hardly enough to justify the price. On inspection I was slightly worried about the extremely thin straps, very chic, but the fear of the thong acting like cheese wire between my toes was somewhat disturbing. Also the narrow finely-crafted soles left my feet slipping around, and the lack of flexibility made for quite an interesting style of walking.

Mark Holgate, fashion writer for Vogue, told me "They're not cheap, but you can wear them all summer with slim linen trousers or a simple dress. I mean, you could buy a cheap, pink, plastic pair from Woolworths, but you only get the quality you pay for." Alternatively there is Kokon To Zai's ultra-trendy Japanese style, worn with split toe or glove socks or Nike's Air Rift, for fans of the alien webbed foot effect.

In terms of old skool, the one to trust is the Scholl wooden exercise sandal. Introduced in 1961 as a therapeutic form of footwear, it claims to tone the muscles in your feet and legs while the toe gripper bar provides essential foot balance. (This does not apply to stabilising drunken swaggers).

If Gucci is the Jaguar of flip-flops, racy and sexy, then Scholl is a Skoda, reliable and road worthy. Don't take yourself so seriously. Think about why you want to trade your Brogues for flip-flop freedom. Isn't it because the mere word `flip-flop' suggests comfort and slouchability? So just relax and flop. Sure, if you want serious sandal chic the Gucci is a simple choice. But as you look down at your designer feet, ask yourself, will you still love them tomorrow?

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